He may be one of India’s most celebrated fashion designers of the 21st century, with the world at his feet and coveted by young starlets like Aishwarya Rai and Kareena Kapoor et al, but as a menswear designer Manish Malhotra is very much underrated. Last week he was in London promoting his latest collection, which is now being sold at Notting Hill’s luxury fashion boutique Aashni & Co. All eyes were fixed squarely on his womenswear collection, which is typically beautiful, with intricate sequins and patterns in abundance, but hardly anyone gave him praise for his menswear collection.
Manish Malhotra, born in London in 1965, has been cultivating a reputation as the master of style and purveyor of aesthetic beauty for over 20 years now. Blessed with an eye for colour and an artistic mind worthy of the old masters, he quickly became the leading light of India’s fashion industry in the 1990’s, designing clothes for many Bollywood blockbusters including Dharmesh Darshan’s Raja Hindustani, Karan Johar’s Kutch Kutch Kota Hai and Rakesh Roshan’s Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai, for which he won a mountain of awards. In 1999 Manish would launch his own fashion line, concentrating predominantly on bridal wear, and then later venturing into high-end couture, which propelled him into the star studded stratosphere, amongst the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Tom Ford. Now, the name Manish Malhotra is known across the world, from London to Dubai, Paris to Los Angeles.
When it comes to menswear, Manish views the male form as something worthy of adornment, from kurtas to his trademark Nehru jackets, Manish’ designs are astutely well shaped and compliment the body perfectly. With this beautifully structured foundation, his genius is let loose even further, as a piece can range from the quiet and restrained to the luxuriously grand and eye catching, yet whatever theme he goes for, masculinity is never negated. As we see in his latest collections, which encompass occasion and bridegroom wear, his keen sense of variety is as strong as ever. No one designs Nehru jackets quite like Manish, and he has not disappointed, with a wealth of masculine colours, from dark maroons and regal purples to stern blacks, which are interwoven with subtle gold melodies. For bridegroom wear, he has once more reimagined the classical sherwani and kurta, melding it with modernity and mixing together a somber palette that is punctuated with bursts of hypnotic colour, such as pinks and reds.
Without a single hesitation, it is right to say that Manish Malhotra has become the saviour of Indian menswear, with a design aesthetic that is outstandingly broad and melds together European and Indian design ethics. Before the arrival of this fashion maverick, it looked as if traditional Indian menswear would become stale and eventually fall off the sartorial cliff into oblivion, but Manish has pulled it back from the brink, reinvigorating it and on a personal level gaining many male fans in the process, such as film director Karan Johar and actors such as Imran Khan and Ranbir Kapoor. With his latest collection, Manish has created a transcendent and imaginative array of mesmerising style, rooted in tradition yet embracing the new.